Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Power of a Dog's Bond

By Linda Cole

Late one night while outside with my three dogs, the sudden presence of a coyote startled us all; my dogs quickly gathered around me. I thought it was because they were scared, but they were ready to protect me. When a dog gives us their trust, the bond we share will never be broken by the pet. The following four dogs illustrate the importance of loyalty, love and a bond that can't be broken.


When Mari gave birth to three Shiba Inu puppies the morning of October 23, 2004, she had no idea that by the end of the day, she'd be fighting to save her puppies and a human member of her family. That fateful day, a devastating earthquake rocked Japan. The village Mari's family lived in was hit the hardest and most of the homes collapsed, including the one Mari was in with her pups. Violent tremors, and a leash restraining her, separated Mari from her pups. She struggled to free herself, but the leash wouldn't budge. As more tremors came, Mari gave a last desperate pull and broke free. She quickly moved her pups to a safe place before racing back into the demolished home.

The grandfather had been in his room upstairs when the quake hit. Mari found him trapped under a dresser. As the old man slowly regained consciousness, she licked his face to let him know she was there. Mari ran back and forth checking on her pups and the grandfather, her paws cut and bleeding from walking over broken glass and porcelain. The grandfather eventually found the strength to push the dresser off and with Mari's help, got out of the collapsed home.


Navy Seal Jon Tumilson shared a strong bond with his black Lab, Hawkeye. When Tumilson deployed to Afghanistan, he left Hawkeye with his best friend, Scott Nichols, in Rockford, Iowa. Tumilson knew Hawkeye was in good hands. On August 6, 2011 the Chinook helicopter carrying Tumilson and 29 other Americans was shot down, killing everyone on board. Nichols was slated to speak at his friend's funeral and as he approached the podium, Hawkeye quietly followed, stopping at the flag draped casket. He let out a heavy sigh, lying down beside his fallen owner for the rest of the service. Lisa Pembleton, Tumilson's cousin, took the heartbreaking photo that went around the world and became a touching tribute of a dog's devotion. Scott Nichols adopted Hawkeye.


In August, 1936, a sheepherder became gravely ill and went to the hospital in Fort Benton, Montana. No one paid attention to a large brown and white collie mix waiting patiently outside by the hospital door. Three days later, the man passed away and his body was readied for shipment to his family. When his coffin was wheeled to the train station, the dog was the only mourner following and as the train door closed, he whined his sadness. Shep, named by railroad employees, became a fixture on the station platform, greeting each train that pulled into the station. His tail eager with anticipation before drooping in disappointment as each train left the station.

For five and a half years, Shep lived under the station's platform, surviving on scraps from railroad employees. As word of his loyalty spread, offers to adopt him poured into the station, but those who cared for him knew the only place the old dog wanted to be was on the railroad platform when a train pulled in. Living under the platform was hard on him. On January 12, 1942, he didn't hear an approaching train. A dusting of snow made the tracks slick and when he noticed the train, he slipped underneath it trying to move out of the way, dying instantly. His death was reported by both wire services and hundreds of mourners paid their last respects two days later as they laid him to rest on a bluff overlooking the train station where he continues his lonely vigil.


Omar Eduardo Rivera worked as a computer technician on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center, where he was on September 11, 2001. When the realization of what happened became clear, people began evacuating down the stairs. Rivera, however, wasn't one of those people. He was blind and knew it would be hard to navigate the steps with all of the confusion and debris. He made a decision to stay where he was, and unhooked the leash from his guide dog, Dorado, so he could have a chance to escape the building. Rivera gave him a pat on the head, nudged him towards the stairwell and commanded Dorado to go. The dog was quickly overtaken by people hurrying down the steps and swept along with the crowd. But Dorado wasn't about to leave his owner behind. He worked his way back to Rivera, nuzzling his leg to let him know he was back. With Dorado by his side, Rivera began the long climb down, aided by a co-worker. It took them almost an hour to navigate the 70 flights of stairs, but they made it out safely because of a loyal dog who wouldn't leave his owner behind.

Top photo by Tim Dawson
Bottom photo by Polly Peterson

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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